Kurt – Tikit Supermodel!

30 04 2010

Kurt graces the 2010 Bike Friday Catalogue cover on a Season Tikit...





Bike Friday eTikit Review – Part 2

29 04 2010

Temporary front mounted battery setup on eTikit...

I’ve given back the blue eTikit shown above, but before I did Kurt rigged up a temporary front mounted battery configuration to test out.  I also installed the 209 [standard] motor in place of the 206 [high speed] motor.  Kurt used tape and some stiff plastic to rig this up on a single pannier Bike Friday Tikit front rack.

Cabling is minimized...

As mentioned in my Part 1 eTikit review by placing the battery and speed controller directly over motor you are able to reduce the length of cable and its vulnerability significantly.  Folding the bike is simplified and handling is slowed down a bit. This will make installing an eTikit kit of your bike much easier and will also allow you to swap out the motor and battery/speed controller very quickly if you want to pedal your Tikit without the e-assist.

Max speed with this [209] was slower at ~30kph.  I didn’t have time to do a range test with this motor, but Kurt did one using both the 206 and 209 motors and the 5.6Ah battery which we will discuss in Part 3 of this review.  I did notice slightly more torque with this motor vs. the 206 motor, but not enough to justify the loss in speed.  If I was buying an eTikit kit I would definitely get the 206 high speed motor.

Production setup will feature a custom bag and a 2 pannier front rack....

Having used the eTikit with both a rear rack mounted battery/speed controller configuration and this front mounted setup I would definitely want a front mounted eTikit.  The slower handling is not an issue after 2mins of riding the bike once you’ve gotten used to it.  Once Ken has the production setup ready you should be able to use two front panniers on your Tikit without affecting the eTikit components.

2 pannier front rack provides a better mounting platform...

Note that you can simply put the battery/speed controller in a pannier on the right side of a single pannier Tikit front rack, but a 2 pannier front rack like the one shown above provides a better platform and by mounting the battery directly above the wheel you have no negative affect on the bike’s handling vs. putting all that weight on one side.

A third alternative is to mount the battery on the steerer tube/stem for use on a Tikit with no front rack.  Kurt tried this and we’ll discuss the pros and cons in Part 3 of this review.





Hammerschmidt without ISCG Tabs…

28 04 2010

Photo: Cosmoworks @ MTBR.com

The Santa Cruz Nomad Mk1 doesn’t have ISCG tabs on the BB so you can’t mount a Hammerschmidt 2 speed crankset.  Well you can’t unless you are a super crafty DIY commando.  Cosmoworks the MTBR.com member who came up with an 8″ DIY mod for the Nomad also came up with this smart hack that allows you to run an ISCG adapter on your MK1 Nomad and then install a Hammerschmidt.

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

As you’ll see in the thread this concept can be used to hack other bikes without ISCG tabs like the Heckler.

Photo: Cosmoworks @ MTBR.com





8″ Travel SC Nomad

27 04 2010

Photo: Cosmoworks @ MTBR.com

Wouldn’t you love an 8″ travel Santa Cruz Nomad that still pedals nicely uphill?  I would!  Well a crafty member [Cosmoworks] over at MTBR.com has come up with a slick DIY option to make that change possible.  Very impressive…read more here.





TV Sucks…

26 04 2010

...it's true...





That’s my girl…

26 04 2010

Sharon learning to drop in...

I’ve been talking to my GF Sharon about getting a mountain bike lately.  Two things that made me happy:

  1. was she understands why a $3K bike is a better choice for her [lighter & better suspension]
  2. she wants a bike that can go DH confidently and we’ll worry about the climbing 2nd

Smart girl…for $3K she can get a Santa Cruz Nomad which goes up and down well while not weighing a ton.

The downside is she doesn’t have $3K burning a hole in her pocket so we probably have to save until next spring – unless a nice used bike comes along.  That’s fine quality is worth the wait…=-)





My balls are tiny…

25 04 2010

"V" for victory!

My GF Sharon is a squash fanatic [green top in video below]…I mean that in the best sense of the word…especially since I’m a self-proclaimed bike nut…=-)  She just won the city inter-club championships so I figured I better get my butt in gear and jump in the court.  I used to play squash [poorly] in university and my army days, but haven’t played in at least 10 years.

Although I may joke that any sport played in a 20′ x 20′ room can’t be that hard the reality squash is pretty difficult.  Happily it’s not hard to hit the ball and at least participate if you opponent isn’t super good or they are taking it easy on you.  What’s hard is playing effortlessly when the ball is zinging around like a mouse on crack and your opponent is out for blood.

Fetch!

Cross-training is good for you.  Doing the same activity endlessly no matter how much fun….not so good!

Damn that glass wall!

The good thing is that Sharon will crush me on the squash court for a long time if not forever so she’ll have a forum to get even with me for those times I ride too hard/aggressively when we are out on our bikes…=-)  Turn around is fair play!

My balls...don't let their size fool you....=-)





X-Fusion Vegence

24 04 2010

The X-Fusion Crew at Whistler...

Click on the pic above and watch the video…is it just me or are those not the sexiest damn fork internals you’ve ever seen??  Found via VIMB.

X-Fusion Website





Time to get salty…

24 04 2010

Baja Kiteboarding...

The kiteboarding season is nearly here…just a few more weeks….I’m excited…time to get my gear sorted….do any maintenance and then hit the waves…=-)





Singletrack Geek – Babe of the Day…

23 04 2010

Photo: Singletrack Geek

Singletrack Geek selected this lovely lady as the babe of the day…who am I to argue with a fellow blogger???….=-)





RANS Alterra Crankforwards

23 04 2010

RANS Alterra

RANS has a couple new crankforwards bikes out – the Alterra and Alterra RoadMy RANS Street crankforward was one super fun bike, easy to ride, uber stable, comfy and easy to adjust for a large range of rider sizes without tools.  I sold it to buy another RANS crankforward, but that deal fell through after the Street was sold…something I regret…=-(

RANS Alterra Road

These new models offer a more aggressive upright geometry while keeping the comfort and ease of handling that riders have come to expect from RANS bikes.  I’ll definitely post more if I get the chance to throw a leg over one of these bikes.

My trusty RANS Street crankforward...

If you haven’t seen it my old Crankforward Blog has some interesting info on these bikes and I’ve got nice photos on Flickr.





La Sportiva Raptor Pre-Review

23 04 2010

La Sportiva Raptor Trail Runner...

Ever feel like you are learning the same lessons over and over again?  I was feeling pretty smug finding a pair of runners without too much hassle the other day.  I went to the trouble of writing a blog post about it and was so confident about the shoes I had picked that I didn’t bother with my usual ritual of wearing them around the house for a day before deciding to keep them.  I also didn’t try them on with my orthopedic insoles. As it turns out I deserve an epic fail for being so lazy.  When I put my insoles in they raised my foot up enough relative to the stock uber thin insoles that I felt like my heel was coming out of the shoe at every step.  The fit went from excellent to awful and I can’t live without my specialized insoles.  Luckily MEC doesn’t quibble about returns even though I did wear them on the street and I biked in them.

Note to self – pay attention to the details!

Tread view....

I tried on several more trail runners…this time putting my insoles into them before bothering to try them out.  Happily the Shoe Gods were kind to me and I found a pair that was comfy and worked with my insoles.  I settled on a pair of La Sportiva Raptors.  They are a bit more robust and heavier than the Montrail Rockridge runners I returned – basically the same as the old Montrail Continental Divide shoes I had worn out.  As a plus they look nicer [to me] than the Rockridges and “Raptor” is a way cooler name….hahaha…=-)

Front view....

La Sportiva Marketing Spew:

Stable neutral trail runner with a super sticky outsole for grip and protection on the trail

Clamp down the laces and get ready to fly! The Raptor is the latest beast in our quiver of aggressive technical trail shoes. Sticky FriXion® rubber outsoles grip the rock like a climbing shoe and the flexible TPU lacing harness is secure and stable on variable terrain. The wrap around toe bumper lets you rest at ease as you cruise through leaf-laden trails littered with hidden obstacles. An excellent lightweight technical trail shoe perfect for every type of terrain.”

Specifications:

This neutral trail runner is light and well-cushioned. The soles are extremely sticky approach shoe rubber, to keep you skid-free on almost any surface. Large roomy toe boxes give your tootsies ample wiggle room.

  • Uppers are breathable nylon mesh and non-stretch synthetic leather.
  • Moulded exoskeleton heel stabilizers.
  • Aggressive rubber toecaps provide protection.
  • Integral external scree guards keep out stones and debris.
  • Lightweight, compression-moulded midsoles are 80% EVA and 20% SBR (synthetic butadiene rubber).
  • Nylon shanks add torsional stability and support.
  • Outsoles have versatile, ultra-sticky approach shoe compound for maximum grip on technical and rocky terrain.
  • Raised, offset slanting lugs provide superior traction and added shock absorption.
  • Heel blocks increase braking stability on the descent.

The bottomline...my foot saving insoles!





36er?

22 04 2010

Photo: found on Bikeforums.net

Update: Nathan writes:

“The bike is the work of Jeff Anderson, a frame builder in NZ here’s his site: http://www.kiwibikes.co.nz/category/singlespeeds/

When you are tired of your puny 29er mountain bike or Surly Pugsley fat tire bike step up to the real man’s wheel size…36″…=-)  Don’t bring a letter opener to a machete fight!





Montrail Rockridge Pre-Review

21 04 2010

Montrail Rockridge trail runner...

I wish my Montrail Continental Divide trail runners weren’t worn out, but they are.  There are holes worn in the uppers, the soles are badly worn and the cushioning has been compacted after many thousands of steps.  Since they’ve served me well I can’t complain they’re toast.  I just wish I had paid more attention to Montrail discontinuing that model so I could have bought 1 or 2 spare pairs.  I’ve got trouble feet so a comfy shoe is worth its weight in gold.

I figured that every time I find a great shoe and wear it long enough to do a review the manufacturer discontinues it making the review irrelevant.  So instead I’m going to do pre-reviews of my new shoes while you can still get them. If they keep this model around long enough I’ll write a review at the end of the summer.

Rockridges vs. Continental Divides

I trucked over to MEC on my Bike Friday Tikit and tried on 5-6 likely candidates from their trail runner section. I’ve gotta admit I liked the  looks of the Rockridges least of all the shoes I put on my feet, but they were the best fitting.  They have a similar shape to my old Montrails [tight heel with open mid-foot and wide forefoot], but they are lighter and have better ventilation.  The downside to those features is they don’t look like they’ll last as long.  As a consolation the other colour of these shoes is even uglier so I sort of lucked out…hahahaha!…=-)

Sole...

Specs:

  • A breathable mesh upper welded with thin, midfoot thermoplastic overlays create a seamless and comfortable fit.
  • Thin forefoot synthetic overlay forms a frame for support without adding bulk or weight.
  • Full length compression molded EVA with Terra-Hex™ technology in the forefoot for added cushioning and multi-directional flexibility.
  • Dual lug design combined with full length Gryptonite™ outsole for great traction on a variety of surfaces.
  • Weight:
    11.4 oz
  • Midsole:
    Single-density compression molded EVA
  • Durometer:
    55 Asker C (+/-3 degrees)
  • Ride Height:
    21 mm heel, 11 mm forefoot
  • Outsole:
    Gryptonite™
  • Protection:
    Forefoot-only Trail Shield™
  • Toe Counter:
    Synthetic overlay
  • Fit: Snug heel, wider forefoot
  • MSRP $90USD [$109CDN at MEC]
  • Trail Runner Magazine – Editor’s Choice Award
  • Montrail website – Rockridge
  • MEC website – Rockridge
  • Rockridge video review




Bike Friday eTikit Review Part 1

20 04 2010

Kurt demonstrating the eTikit grin...

I’ve been putting off writing a review of the eTikit because there is so much to discuss I just never seemed to have a whole day free to write it down. So I’ve decided to break the review down into 2 or 3 parts that I can blast off in a couple hours each. Here is part 1!

Production Prototype Disclaimer

The two eTikit kits I’ve been testing with help from my buddy Kurt are not production items.  Ken is still making changes and refining the kits so please keep that in mind.  Each individual component is a production item it’s just how it will all go together and the selection of components that is being worked on at this point.  As an example after our testing we’ve recommended that the batteries not be mounted on the rear rack or seatpost – instead they’ll be mounted low on the stem or using the front rack.   Ken is very keen on producing a high quality product and he’s eager to make changes that will improve his eTikit kits.

eTikit Components

  • standard Bike Friday Tikit folding bike [any size]
  • specialized electric hub motor with 70mm dropout spacing
  • handlebar mounted throttle
  • speed controller [takes throttle input and feeds appropriate power from battery to motor]
  • battery with case
  • wiring
  • charger

Bike Friday Tikit

Any standard Bike Friday Tikit can be electrified regardless of age or specification.  The only issue that could cause a problem is if you have a custom Tikit with front disc brake.  Other than that the eTikit kit simply replaces the original front wheel with a specially built hub electric hub motor and then the battery and other components are mounted to the frame.  One thing I like about the eTikit kit is that since it uses a standard Tikit the whole kit can easily be removed if you want to ride your Tikit without e-assist.  Using the front mounted battery configuration we recommend the whole process should take 5mins and the only thing left on your Tikit would be the throttle and a short section of wire. I should also note that Ken at Power in Motion is undertaking this project in partnership with Bike Friday so there should be no impact on your bike’s warranty.

High Speed 206 Hub Motor...

Hub Motor

Our eTikit kits came in two configurations:

  1. 206 Hub Motor – high speed unit [over 30kph]
  2. 209 Hub Motor – standard unit [30kph max]

Both are special brushless/gearless electric motors that are manufactured for the 70mm front dropout spacing used on the Tikit and other folding bikes.  The high speed 206 version is very special and only 4 exist in the world as a special order for Power in Motion. I had the high speed motor on the eTikit I tested and it would hit 35kph on flat ground without pedaling and with some easy pedaling I could get over 40kph.

These motors weight ~7lbs and can be run at 36 – 48 volts.  Anticipated service internals is approximately 2 years when the bearings will have to be replaced.  Given the short spokes the wheels themselves will be very durable, however, depending on weather and your braking habits rims will need to be replaced every 1 to 3 years.

Thumb throttle...

Throttle

The throttle takes input from the rider and tells the speed controller how much power to send to the motor which determines the speed of the bike.  We started with thumb actuated throttles on the right side of the bar, but eventually decided a left side mounted twist type throttle so we could shift with the right hand as we accelerated and used the left hand to control the hub motor.  I also found the thumb throttle was tiring to use for long periods of time.  This is a personal preference thing and the throttles are not expensive so it may be worth trying out a couple options.

If you use the twist throttle you need to ensure it is not pressed up against anything [brake lever, bell, etc...] or it can stick on [don't ask!]  if you have a long flat empty commute you can use this as a sort of cruise control, but when you let go of the throttle the motor won’t stop so be aware of that implication.

Speed Controller and 8.2 amp hour battery...

Speed Controller/Battery

I don’t have much to say about the speed controller. It is the small black plastic box shown in the photo above just below the battery bag.  We’ve suggested to Ken that the speed controller be mounted inside the battery case/bag as the user doesn’t need access to it and it will simplify installation.  During our test both speed controllers worked fine and needed no attention.

We had two batteries on our test bikes.  I had the larger 8.2 amp hour battery with the 206 high speed motor and Kurt had the 5.6 amp hour battery with the 209 motor.  The higher speed motor draws more power and needs a bigger battery to achieve a decent range.  Both batteries were sealed lithium-ion units and came with chargers.  Ken provided a couple bags to allow the batteries to be mounted on the Tikit.  The batteries could also be mounted in hard cases depending on the owners setup preferences.

Battery Specs:

  • 37v, 5.6Ah, weight = 3lbs, charge time = ~2.8hrs.
  • 37v, 8.2Ah, weight = 4.6lbs, charge time = ~4.1hrs
  • 37v, 10.5Ah, weight = 6.2lbs, charge time = ~5.2hrs
  • Li-Ion chemistry
  • each battery has a service life of 600 cycles
  • a faster 4amp charger can be used which would reduce times above by 50%

eTikit wiring harness...

Wiring

The wiring harness used for the eTikit is a robust high quality unit that will take lots of abuse.  If you use a front mounted battery configuration as we recommend the extremely short cable runs mean that you should never have a cable related problem due to wear and tear when folding.  If you choose to put the battery under the seat or on the rear rack you should get lots of use out of your eTikit without problems, but the wiring is subject to a lot more mechanical stress and potential damage in these locations.

The wiring and connectors are water resistant so you won’t have any issues running the eTikit in the rain.  Naturally you should not submerge the hub motor or any other component of the eTikit kit underwater.

High Speed 206 motor

High Speed eTikit Setup

  • 206 high speed hub motor
  • thumb throttle on right side of bars
  • 8.2Ah battery mounted on rear rack with speed controller
  • large stock Tikit [other than eTikit items]
  • stock Schwalbe Marathon tires

Look Ma - no feet!...

High Speed eTikit Test Results

By the numbers:

  • eTikit [size large] weight as tested = 42lbs
  • Weight of eTikit kit components = 14lbs
  • rider weight = 175lbs
  • air temp = -5 to 15 deg C [23 to 59 deg F]
  • max speed on flats no pedaling = 35kph [21.7mph]
  • max speed up moderate sustained hill = 19kph [11.8mph]
  • max range on full charge = 18km/11.2miles [flat ground]
  • time to charge 8.2Ah battery from empty using standard 2 amp charger = ~4hrs
  • cost of kit as tested = $850 – $950

Handling

With the rear mounted battery the eTikit handled just like my Tikit does.  That means slightly faster than a 700c bike and excellent for urban road and MUP use.  I didn’t try the battery in any other location, but having used my Tikit with front panniers I expect the eTikit will exhibit slightly slower steering making it handle pretty much the same as a 700c bike.  The eTikit is heavier than my Tikit, but I didn’t really notice this when riding under e-assist as I remained seated.

eTikit folded with battery removed from rack...

Folding/Carrying

The rear mounted battery makes folding the eTikit a pain.  You have to remove the battery pack first and then fold the eTikit.  It works and I did this a few times when necessary, but it wasn’t slick and fast like my hyperfold Tikit.  Rolling the folded eTikit was no problem and was preferable to lifting it due to the extra weight.  Even lifting the eTikit by the saddle was problematic with the rear mounted battery as the extra weight made the bike fold when you may have wanted to just reposition the rear wheel.  As a result I can’t recommend the rear rack mounted battery position unless you don’t need to fold your eTikit.

I would note that if you mount the battery under the seat or above the front wheel the fold is not impacted and you don’t have to remove the battery.

eTikit folded hub motor side view...

E-Assist

The high speed [206 motor] does give you the benefit of an excellent high speed of 35kph without pedaling and over 40kph with some easy pedaling.  The unit does not have a lot of torque so I found it best to pedal away from a stop while giving the eTikit full throttle.  Once up to speed I often stopped pedaling and enjoyed the ride.  The low torque is good in that the e-assist provides a firm, but controllable pull.  It won’t do something so powerful or fast that you crash or need to worry about the e-assist.  I did not have any issues with the e-assist losing traction, but I only used the eTikit on paved roads and paved MUPs.

I was able to climb a moderately steep hill at 19kph using only the e-assist after I pedaled to get the bike up to speed.  You will find that due to the low torque of the 206 motor you won’t get much help from it on very steep hills.

I was able to get 18kms from a full charge of the 8.2Ah battery using mostly e-assist and minimal pedaling on a mostly flat route.  Note that due to the low torque I tend to just give full throttle most of the time which may not be the most efficient way to use this system.  You can extend the range of your eTikit by pedaling more and using the e-assist less.  Being a pedal to the metal kind of guy I didn’t try that strategy.  If I was buying an eTikit I’d buy a big enough battery to run under 100% e-assist for my entire commute.

Note my testing occurred during late winter/early spring conditions.  Temperatures ranged from cold to cool and I encountered rain several times.  The eTikit worked fine in these conditions, but be aware that batteries don’t work as well when cool so I probably didn’t get as much range on my eTikit as I would have running the same test in the summer.

Have look at my earlier eTikit post if you’d like more information on my overall impressions of this bike.

You’ll notice in some of the photos of the battery bag that there is a key hanging off the right front corner. This key allows you to turn off the e-assist when you aren’t going to use it.  This is an excellent safety feature that I recommend you use – especially if you have kids.

I experienced a vibration at a specific speed [~20kph] on my eTikit.  I didn’t expend the effort to track it down and correct it.  It’s coming from the rack/fenders, but lasts on a moment as you accelerate through that speed range.  If this was my bike I’d spend the time to sort out the issue.

eTikit drivetrain view...

No E-assist Riding

You can ride the eTikit without e-assist if needed.  Due to the extra weight and drag from the hub motor this is not recommended.  It’s a lot of work.  If your battery dies unexpectedly – no worries you’ll make it home, but if you want to go out for a Sunday pedal power only ride with the family you are not going to enjoying the ride.

This is one of the great things about a front mounted battery.  You can swap in your normal front Tikit wheel and ditch the battery in less than 5 mins.  Your eTikit will be transformed into a fun pedaling normal Tikit and can be switched back just as easily.

Charging/Battery

Charging was easy – just plug in the battery and wait ~3-5hrs for a green light depending on battery capacity.  You can reduce the charging time by 50% if you use a faster 4amp charger Ken has available.  As I noted above I would buy a big enough battery to last your entire commute/ride.  Note that you can charge a battery at work and at home so that it only has to last you 50% of your commute or you could buy two batteries and leave one at each end of your commute and recharge both at night.  Batteries are sealed and require no maintenance.  Each will last approximately 600 cycles before it needs to be replaced.

Since my typical commute is only a few kms downtown and I generally only run errands in my neighbourhood the 8.2Ah battery was more than enough for my needs.  I only needed charge it every other day or every 3rd day if I did fewer errands.

eTikit MUP action..

Cost

Since these kits have not been finalized the costs below are only approximations are subject to change:

  • $750-$850 for standard kit [209 motor & 5.6Ah battery]
  • 206 motor is not available yet, but it will cost the same as the standard 209 motor
  • upgrading to the 8.2Ah battery will be +$100
  • upgrading to the 10.5Ah battery will be +$200
  • the 4 amp fast charger will cost more, but I don’t have a price
  • kit cost will include throttle, speed controller, wiring harness and battery storage bag

What I’d change:

  • even if I’m not pedaling I’d rather have Greenspeed Scorchers on my eTikit for the more comfortable ride and better battery life due to lower rolling resistance.
  • I would definitely move the battery to the top of my 2 sided pannier rack to reduce complexity and the long wiring harness.
  • I would swap my bike back to a regular Tikit [remove hub motor and battery] if I wanted to pedal it rather than simply turn off the e-assist.
  • I’d wire in a LED headlight to the main battery so I could commute with one battery to charge.

Safety

The high speed eTikit can sustain speeds of over 40kph with a bit of pedaling from the rider.  The eTikit will start to roll as soon as the throttle is activated.  For these reasons I suggest you take extra care when riding it.

  • wear a helmet
  • wear eye protection
  • wear gloves
  • turn the e-assist off whenever you are not using it to avoid inadvertent activation.
  • if you have kids explain to them the eTikit can be dangerous and take the e-assist key with you when you are not with the bike.
  • ride at an appropriate speed for conditions and traffic.  The eTikit won’t slow down any faster than a normal bike in an emergency situation.

Up Next

I’ll be posting a discussion of the 209 standard motor eTikit kit that Kurt tested as well as a bit of comparison between the two over the next week or so.





Peugeot

19 04 2010

Seen outside Safeway...





Beer there done that…

16 04 2010

Surly 1x1 street art ride...

I always thought the bike component beer openers were useless poser gimmicks – until today!

Surly Tug Nut to the rescue...

My friend James’ art.

My friend Dela’s mix.

I’m glad it’s spring…=-)





Two new bikes from Santa Cruz…

16 04 2010

Butcher - 150mm all mtn

Santa Cruz has two new bikes out featuring a new floating shock single pivot which is called APP. APP’s claim to fame is the lower cost and simple/robust construction of a single pivot FS bike with performance a lot closer to their more expensive and complex VPP suspension bikes.

  1. The Butcher [150mm All Mtn]
  2. The Nickel [125mm Trail Bike]

Santa Cruz has a revamped website which is worth a look as well.

Nickel - 125mm trail bike...

Click on each of the images above to see a video about these new bikes…





Surly 1×1 Fixed Gear Mk2

15 04 2010

My Surly 1x1 fixed gear Mk2...

I’ve been posting about a Surly 1×1 build over on my Bow Cycle blog.  You can see the Mk1 version below and the new Mk2 version above.

Mk1 version of the build...

My initial goal was to use mostly parts that I had in my spares bin.  Once I had tested out the fixed gear concept for several weeks and liked it a lot.  I was willing to invest some $$$ as there were a few things I wanted to change.  I should note that I sold a frame and carried the money over to my LBS to pay for these upgrades.  The total was exactly the cash I had in my pocket from the frame sale, to the penny, so clearly the Universe is stoked about this bike!….=-)

Velocity B43 rims...deep and delicious!

The biggest change was getting the wheels [kept the previous hubs] relaced to Velocity B43 deep V rims.  This is partially functional in that the BB is a lot higher so I can corner much more aggressively.  And partially aesthetics – the bigger wheels with skinny rubber fills up the frame a lot nicer than the 26″ wheels did leaving enough room for some fenders.

Triple PB Superflash for mega visibility in all weather conditions...

I also added:

  • All City pedals
  • 2 more Planet Bike Superflash red blinkies [total of 3!]
  • ground off a tab on the Surly Tug Nut chain tensioner so I can access the drive side rear fender mount.
  • Planet Bike fenders

Ground down Tug Nut so I could mount fenders...

I do have a few Mk2.1 upgrades still planned:

  • toe clips and straps
  • higher quality 32mm tires

Front end...

I’m finding that the bigger wheels and resulting bigger gear take a bit more effort to spin up to speed, but once I’m there the bike wants to cruise like a steamroller.  With a higher BB and heavier wheels the bike isn’t quite as nimble as the previous version, but having a ton of cornering clearance is well worth the trade off when you cannot stop pedaling and need to lean the bike over.

Mec grips...

I must admit the white MEC grips are pretty, but not as comfortable as the Ergon Grips they replaced.  It’s only a matter of time before I swap the Ergons back in.  I’m running 28mm Continental Ultra Sport tires which are a good value at $24 each, but I would like something a bit more supple and a bit wider.  I’m in no rush, but when I come across some nice 32mm tires I’ll swap ‘em in.

Back end...





DIY Uber Stable Kickback

14 04 2010

Photo: Everryday Adventures

If you are an Xtracycle [or Big Dummy] owner with a Kickback center stand this wider more stable DIY mod may interest you.  I found it while reading the excellent Biking in a Big City Blog.





Bike Friday Folding Stem

13 04 2010

I noticed on Walter’s Blog that Bike Friday has a new folding Tikit style stem for their pocket bikes like my NWT.  This does two things for you:

  1. it allows you to the fold a Bike Friday Travel bike much faster than previously.
  2. it keeps the stem/bars in place when folded so you can carry the folded bike easily.

If you are  a bike commuter who wants the beefier more touring worthy ride of a Bike Friday travel bike, but needs some of the Tikit’s fast convenient fold this may be the upgrade for you.





Crank Brothers Joplin R Broken

12 04 2010

My Santa Cruz Nomad & Crank Bros Joplin R

One of the best parts of my Santa Cruz Nomad mountain bike is the Crank Brothers Joplin R adjustable seatpost. Being able to raise and lower my saddle at will [up to 100 times on a 4hr ride!] is so amazingly helpful that I’d be hard pressed to ever ride a mountain bike without something similar.

Click here for my review of the Joplin R after my Moab/Sedona trip last year.

Darn we have an oil leak!

This post has been through thousands of cycles and has taken a lot of abuse in the 14 months I’ve owned it.  It has received exactly zero maintenance in that time.  As I was putting my Nomad away today I noticed oil leaking profusely out of the seal where the inner and outer post meet [shown in image above].  I checked the Joplin R FAQ and it’s one of two problems – both of which are repairable.  Happily I’m still within the 2 year warranty so it will go back to my LBS for service.

Ultimately I’d rather ride my bikes lots and break stuff than ride less a never have any problems!…=-)

More oil!

Although I don’t love when expensive bike parts break I have to say that the pounding this post gets is extreme and I don’t feel particularly hard done by.  The only real drag will be going back to the stock Thompson non-adjustable seatpost while I get the Joplin fixed…the horror…the horror!  Hopefully they can fix it right at my LBS so I won’t go too deep into withdrawal…=-)

Crank Bros Joplin R - looking minty fresh!

If you are a mountain biker that rides technical terrain you really need to try an adjustable seatpost.  It will revolutionize your riding guaranteed!  My Joplin only has a 3″ range, but Crank Brothers now have a Joplin 4 R with 4″ of range….sweet!  I may buy one in the next year or two and keep the existing post as a spare so we don’t get caught out on a road trip.

Anatomy of a Joplin R





Deep SUP

11 04 2010

Image: Deep Magazine





Tikit #1 @ Treehugger

10 04 2010

Little wheels - big load!

I’m happy that the Bike Friday Tikit was selected as Treehugger’s #1 folding bike.  Having tried several different folders I agree that the Tikit is superior by design.  I was a little sad to see that the Tikit wasn’t selected best folding cargo bike…=-(  Maybe next year….=-)

Who needs a Big Dummy?





All Mountain Bikes for My GF

9 04 2010

Kona Coilair = $1750cdn for 2009 stock

I got Sharon out on Kurt’s Santa Cruz Nomad.  The good news is she liked it a lot and is stoked to try some dirt trails.  The bad news is Kurt won’t let her keep his Nomad permanently!…=-)

Santa Cruz Heckler = $2000USD

So we are looking at a few long travel all mountain full suspension bikes for her.  I’m not sure if she’ll even be able to swing one this year, but we might as well do our homework now and figure out how much $$$ we are talking about so we know how much saving has to happen.

Santa Cruz Nomad = $3000USD

I’m of the mind that upgrading suspension on a MTB is so damn expensive that you’re way better off to wait and buy the bike you want/need than to think you are saving $$$ buying a lower quality bike and upgrading when you wear stuff out/have more $$$.

I’ve added links on each image to the manufacturer’s website – so click ‘em if you want more info.

Giant Reigh 2 = $2,300CDN

Our next move will be to get out to Bow Cycle for some test rides on as many 6″ travel bikes as we can.  Looking at bike specs online is useful for narrowing down choices, but ultimately you gotta push the pedals to know what’s what!

Personally I’ve had such good luck with Santa Cruz bikes that I’ll be pushing for one of them unless Sharon falls in love with a bike she test rides and/or we find a sweet deal on  a used bike along the way.  The Santa Cruz Heckler is a very nice rig at $2K and unless we luck out on a used bike I don’t think a sub-$2K bike is in the cards if we want 6″ of travel and quality suspension.

If you have any suggestions for suitable bikes for Sharon or maybe you’ve got a lightly used long travel MTB  in a smaller size you want to get rid of – please leave a comment…=-)





Big Dummy Frame Bag

8 04 2010

Porcelain Rocket BD Frame Bag

Scott from Porcelain Rocket made me this awesome frame bag for my Surly Big Dummy.  It fits in the triangle behind the seattube that previously was only used for a single waterbottle cage.  With 4 bottle cages on a Big Dummy I can certainly give up one to get some useful storage.  Now you might say with all the storage available on a Big Dummy why do you need more?  Well the storage options at the back are limited to pockets in the Xtracycle Freeloader bags. They work and are useful for items not needed a lot like extra tie down straps, pump, etc..  The problem is when you have your Freeloaders loaded up it’s hard to get access to these pockets without having to mess with your cargo.

Left side of bag with two pockets...

That’s where Scott’s bag comes in…by adding some easily accessible storage behind the seattube you can carry smaller items like your wallet, camera, snacks, cell phone and get to them anytime without messing with your cargo – that’s ideal.

The workmanship on this bag is top notch.  The materials used are very durable and essentially waterproof everywhere, but the stitching and zippers.  A bit of seam seal could make the bag virtually waterproof if I desire.  It fits perfectly and looks great on the bike.

Left side of bag with a single waterproof cellphone pocket...

The left side of the bag is reinforced with a removable stiff plastic insert so the bag doesn’t hit the chain.  There is also a small waterproof pocket for a cellphone or camera.

Inside the waterproof stash pocket...

Scott did such a nice job I’m getting a custom frame bag for my Santa Cruz Nomad so I can carry tools/pump/etc on the frame not on my back.

Scott personal bike with seatbag and barbag...

Scott will tackle custom jobs as well as making a production set of bike packing seat bags & bar bags like the ones shown above.





Hammerschmidt

7 04 2010

My last post I talked about the idea of putting a Rohloff in my Santa Cruz Nomad.  That idea has stalled because of the performance issues associated with adding a significant amount of unsprung weight to the rear wheel.  Another thought is to add a Hammerschmidt 2 speed BB to the Nomad and swap in a short cage rear derailleur.

The Hamerschmidt is a 2 speed BB made by Truvativ.  It gives you a direct drive lower range and an over drive range that is 1.6 times the lower range.  The All Mountain version I’d be interested in would be like having a 24T granny and a 38T middle ring.  Shifting is instantaneous and can happen at any time – under load or while coasting.  I often find myself jumping back and forth between my two front rings [big ring replaced by a bash guard] as I go from steep uphill to steep downhill.

Hammerschmidt internals...

This has the following benefits:

  • no extra weight at the rear wheel
  • shorter derailleur and less chain to slap and move around
  • impossible to throw chain on front rings
  • instant front gear changes when coasting or under load
  • no extra drag in low range when climbing [BB running at 1:1]
  • weatherproof front shifts
  • access to all 9 cogs at rear all the time due to better chain line
  • very good clearance for obstacles
  • small amount of extra weight [200grams or so] is sprung on main frame of bike

The downsides are:

  • not cheap @ $900cdn+ for the All Mountain version
  • Nomad not optimized for running in 24T ring all the time
  • still have a rear derailleur
  • rear end of drivetrain not weatherproof
  • requires ISCG 03 or 05 tabs to mount HS

Photo: Pinkbike

I tried out a Santa Cruz Driver 8 with Hammerschmidt at Bow Cycle and I was impressed.  It shifts so fast you can respond to whatever the trail throws at you without having to pedal or wait for the chain to get sorted.

Hammerschmidt Info:

Photo: HS on Bliz2z' SC Nomad





Kona hates Canada!

6 04 2010

Kona 2009 Full Suspension Sale

Okay I realize I’m being dramatic, but as a Canadian you do get really tired of getting the shaft because you live on the North side of an imaginary line.  It’s not like our money doesn’t buy stuff or that there is much difference between living in Windsor Ontario or 2 miles across the river in Detroit….well unless you want a good deal on a 2009 Kona FS bike….

Kona is having a big sale on specific 2009 full suspension bikes – well as long as you don’t live in Canada!…=-(  Kona is USA/CDN company – supposedly 50/50, but it seems the USA half gets the good deals.  *sigh*





Rohloff Santa Cruz Nomad?

6 04 2010

Rohloff wheel from my Surly Big Dummy...

If you read this blog regularly you’ll know:

  1. I love a good IGH [Rohloff/Alfine, etc]
  2. I love my Santa Cruz Nomad
  3. I’m not a weight weenie

So it shouldn’t shock you that I was pondering mounting a Rohloff in my Nomad frame for a super clean chainline, easy all weather shifting and shifting while coasting.  I have a Rohloff wheel in my Surly Big Dummy built up using a Mavic 321EN all mountain/enduro rim which would be a good match for the Nomad.  I got as far as pulling the wheel from my Big Dummy and stripping off the Schwalbe Marathon XR tire [still in great shape! after two years of cargo biking].

Although I’m not a weight weenie the heftiness of the Rohloff wheel was disturbing.  So I decided I might as well weigh it to see how heavy it really was.  The answer = 6.2lbs [Rohloff, spokes, 160mm disc rotor and cog].  I wanted to borrow Kurt’s Nomad for my GF to use this weekend and offered to fix a flat he had in exchange for the loan.  When I had his rear wheel in hand with tire/tube off I was shocked by how light it felt compared to the Rohloff.  His wheel [Mavic 321XM, DT hub, cassette and 160mm disc rotor] = 3.6lbs.

If we were talking a touring bike or a commuter I couldn’t care less about 2.6lbs.  The trouble is on a long travel full suspension mountain bike the rear wheel has to do a ton of up and down at high speed.  The extra 2.6lbs will be something like 60% of the weight of my Nomad’s rear wheel with tire/tube.  That’s a significant difference and a performance issue that I don’t think I can live with.

I’ve seen some custom mountain bikes with Rohloffs built into the main frame and a simple cog/fixed gear wheel in the rear to drive the bike.  That’s a smart solution to keeping the Rohloff’s weight suspended.  Not one that will work for me though.

Probably for the best…my Big Dummy loves that Rohloff and on a cargo bike 2.6lbs extra IGH weight just makes the bike more sexy!…=-)~





18″ Trek 7000 MTB For Sale [Sold!]

5 04 2010

Trek 7000

This bike belongs to my friend Sean. It’s been ridden lightly and has been freshly tuned up. It was made in the USA when Trek still did that sort of thing.

Rock Shox Judy XC

The Rock Shox Judy XC is a short travel fork by today’s standards, but it would be ideal for a urban assault commuter bike.  A set of 26 x 1.5″ City Slickers tires are included for fast urban riding.

Gripshift 7 speed...

7 speed gripshifters and canti brakes are old school, but do the job.

LX cranks and front derailleur...

Shimano LX up front…

Fresh new cassette and XT mech...

The cassette is new and the rear derailleur is an XT unit.

This bike is ready to roll for $230cdn.  Sean would rather sell locally, but if you need it shipped and will pay actually shipping costs I’m sure he’d agree.